Israeli Supreme Court Orders Enlistment of Orthodox Students

Approximately 67,000 Haredi men could be incorporated into mandatory military service.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Israel ruled that there is no legal basis for allowing ultra-Orthodox Jews to be exempt from military service.


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“The Executive branch cannot exempt yeshiva students from the military service law in the absence of an appropriate legal framework… There is no legal basis for excluding ultra-Orthodox men from recruitment,” the Supreme Court stated, specifying that if ultra-Orthodox men do not serve in the military, they should not receive educational grants or social assistance either.

“In the current state of affairs, non-compliance with the Military Service Law creates significant discrimination between those who are obliged to serve and those who are not mobilized,” it argued.

Although military service is mandatory for both men and women, ultra-Orthodox Jews can avoid it if they dedicate themselves to studying sacred texts under an exemption established by David Ben-Gurion, the founder of the State of Israel, in 1948. His executive decree has been periodically extended since then.

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Previously, on June 11, the Israeli Parliament reintroduced a bill for the gradual enlistment of ultra-Orthodox people into the armed forces. Approximately 67,000 Haredi men could be incorporated into mandatory military service, though the Supreme Court’s ruling did not clarify whether the issuance of recruitment orders would be immediate or a gradual process.

The two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, are staunchly opposed to the recruitment of young Torah scholars and have threatened to leave the government coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The leader of the United Torah Judaism party, Yitzhak Goldknopf, quickly criticized the decision as “an expected, very unfortunate, and disappointing decision.”